Q. I’ve been working in industry for 15 years and now I’d like to transition into academia. I don’t have many publications, but I’ve stayed on top of the technical research in my company. It would be a career setback if I came in at the assistant professor level because I’ve had so much experience in my field. What do I do? Will I be expected to publish in academia?
A. You will certainly be expected to publish in academia. It’s a core activity. You will also be expected to get grants to support your research for the publications. Your industrial experience, even without publications is very valuable. Your experience will help you publish and get grants; your experience will also help you get a position. You can apply for an assistant professor position and ask for early consideration for promotion and tenure. Without publication experience, there are very few universities that would hire someone into a tenured position. But, what you should do is apply, take an assistant professorship if that’s the only option, and flourish because of your skills and experience.
Prof. Gordon A. Thomas is Professor of Physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He began his career in at Bell Labs where he worked on optical communications and helped develop the purest optical fiber. He holds 16 patents, has published over 150 research articles, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.